corporeal messes

I curse myself in every sense when I say something is “part one of many” or that I’ll return later with updates on something I posted here, because it’s a surefire prelude to forgetting about whatever it was for two months. And when I say “forgetting,” I of course mean “getting so caught up in Infinite Jest and all of the nonreading things there are to do in the summer that using the internet in my free time becomes anathema.” Getting caught up in Infinite Jest has also meant trying to prolong the experience of reading it: I’m now within the last hundred pages of text and the last two pages of footnotes, and I’ll read one scene, then put the book down for a day or two so there will still be some left for the next time I have my full attention available to devote to it.

It’s striking to me, this time around, how much of the book is about how weird and sad and gross it is to inhabit a body. Whether you’re hideously and improbably deformed, or dependent on Substances, or bound to your fauteuil, you are probably not having a jolly good time with your physicality, in this novel. I have some loose notions of what this all means in the grand scheme or whatever, but mostly it’s just sad: so many cages so eloquently described. There seem to be ways to distract oneself from the trials of inhabiting one’s skin, but no ways out, no means to transcend one’s body. As far as there might be a lesson to take away from all this pathos, awareness and empathy and a certain kind of courage that encompasses those traits seems to be all there is to it. I’m reminded of this speech; I’m sure it’s no accident that one of the AA speakers in Infinite Jest also tells the “This is water” anecdote.

I think that distills most of what I’ve learned and noticed in my rereading. Also if anyone else is a fan of Max Tundra, I met him and confirmed that his song “The Entertainment” is indeed named in reference to Infinite Jest. Also: he is awesome. Also: apparently I am the first person to notice that, or at least to ask about it? This is probably the most geeked-up I’ve ever been about meeting a music-making person, and I am always geeked up about everything.


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